Following its recent joint side event in Geneva, BHRC joined 5 other organisations in oral statements at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council urging the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to address the situation of the legal profession in Turkey and Poland.
The statement, read by a representative from the International Bar Association Human Rights institute (IBAHRI), focused on the widespread human rights violations against lawyers in Turkey since the attempted coup in July 2016. To date, we have received reports that 1542 lawyers have been arrested, 580 prosecuted and 138 sentenced.
The statement invited the Council to urge the Government of Turkey to:
a. End repression and persecution of lawyers in Turkey
b. Release all lawyers under arbitrary detention
c. Provide all lawyers in Turkey with the protection and guarantees required to carry out their functions as provided for in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers; and
d. Ensure that all attacks against lawyers are effectively investigated and perpetrators effectively prosecuted.
The statement also addressed the ongoing ‘state-led campaign of intimidation and harassment’ against judges in Poland. Against the objections of BHRC and other international organisations, the government took control of the body in charge of appointing and disciplining judges, and, after the entry into force of the Law on Supreme Court, on 3 July, 40% of Supreme Court judges will be forced to retire. We invite the Council to urge the Government of Poland to end the oppression of the judiciary.